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I have a congenital desire to contradict; my whole life is merely a chain of sad and unsuccessful contradictions to heart and mind. When faced with enthusiasm, I am seized by a midwinter freeze, and I suppose that frequent dealings with sluggish phlegmatics would have made a passionate dreamer.
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The history of a man's soul, even the pettiest soul, is hardly less interesting and useful than the history of a whole people; especially when the former is the result of the observations of a mature mind upon itself, and has been written without any egotistical desire of arousing sympathy or astonishment. Rousseau's Confessions has precisely this defect "" he read it to his friends.
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The story of a man's soul, however trivial, can be more interesting and instructive than the story of a whole nation, especially if it is based on the self-analysis of a mature mind and is written with no vain desire to rouse our sympathy and curiosity. The problem with Rousseau's Confessions is that he read them to his friends.
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I've an insatiable craving inside me that consumes everything and makes me regard the sufferings and joys of others only in their relationship to me, as food to sustain my spiritual powers. I am no longer capable of loosing my head in love, Ambition has been crushed in me by circumstances, but it has come out in another way, for ambition is nothing but a lust for power and my chief delight is to dominate those around me. To inspire in others love, devotion, fear - isn't that the first symptom and the supreme triumph of power? To cause another person suffering or joy, having no right to do so - isn't that the sweetest food of pride?
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I felt somehow happy to be so high above the world - a childish feeling, I grant, but we can't help becoming children as we leave social conventions behind and come nearer to nature. All life's experience is shed from us and the soul becomes anew what it once was and will surely be again
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for I love enemies, though not in the Christian way. They amuse me and quicken my pulse. To be always on one's guard, to catch every look and the significance of every word, to guess intentions, foil conspiracies, pretend to be deceived and then to overthrow with one blow the whole vast edifice of artifices and designs raised with so much effort - that is what I call life.
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I have carried only a few ideas out of life's storm - and not one feeling. I have long lived according to the head, not the heart. I consider and analyze my personal passions and actions with a strict curiosity, but without sympathy. There are two people within me: one who lives in the full sense of the word, and the other who reasons and judges him.
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De geschiedenis van een mensenziel , zelfs van de allergeringste, is haast belangwekkender en leerrijker dan de geschiedenis van een geheel volk, vooral wanneer zij het resultaat is van een heldere geest, en wanneer zij geschreven is zonder ijdele wens bewondering en sympathie op te wekken.
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I must have had some high object in life, for I feel unbounded strength within me. But I never discovered it and was carried away by the allurements of empty, un-rewarding passions. I was tempered in their flames and came out cold and hard as steel, but I'd lost forever that fire of noble endeavour, that finest flower of life. How many time since then have I been an axe in the hands of fate? Like an engine of execution, I've descended on the heads of the condemned, often without malice, but always without pity. My love has brought no one happiness, for I've never sacrificed a thing for those I've loved. I've loved for myself, for my own pleasure, I've only tried to satisfy a strange inner need. I've fed on their feelings, love, joys and sufferings, and always wanted more. I'm like a starving man who falls asleep exhausted and sees rich food and sparkling wines before him. He rapturously falls on these phantom gifts of the imagination and feels better, but the moment he wakes up his dream disappears and he's left more hungry and desperate than before.
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